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Merch by Amazon (MBA): Guide for sellers

10/12/2021 • Reading time: ca. 8 min • by Trutz Fries

Merch by Amazon (MBA) is a so-called print-on-demand service that allows sellers to sell T-shirts and other merchandise items with self-designed designs via Amazon. The products are only produced once the customer has placed an order. Amazon then takes care of production, shipping and customer support.

Merch by Amazon is not only used by individual designers, but also by well-known companies such as Disney, Marvel, Fortnite and many more. They sell printed fan items such as T-shirts, mugs, etc. via Amazon.

Marvel T-Shirt Amazon
Marvel T-Shirt Amazon

How Merch by Amazon works, in which countries it is offered and what opportunities it offers you, we explain in this article.

How can I apply as a merchant?

In order to sell merchandise items on Amazon, you need to apply for the MBA Program (opens new window).

The application process consists of a few steps, but not everyone who applies is accepted. It often happens that traders have to apply several times before they are accepted into the MBA program.

Amazon MBA Application
Amazon MBA Application

Prerequisite for the application is a tax identification number and a business registration.

When applying, you must provide personal data and bank details. You will also be asked to fill in a tax form. The last step is a personal letter in which you should justify why you have chosen Amazon MBA.

It takes three weeks to three months to receive a response to your application.

Which products can I sell?

Currently, you can have the following products printed with your design and sell them in Germany:

  • Standard T-Shirt
  • Long Sleeve T-Shirt
  • Pullover Hoodie
  • Zip Hoodie
  • Sweatshirt
  • Tank Top
  • V-Neck
  • Raglan
  • PopSockets Grip
  • Phone Case

If you sell on the US marketplace, you can sell additional products such as throw pillows in different sizes or a tote bag.

What are Amazon's design requirements?

Sellers must ensure that provided Photoshop, Illustrator or Gimp templates are used.

To ensure the design prints well, the design must meet the following requirements:

  • Size: 15 x 18 in.
  • resolution: 300 DPI
  • transparent background
  • Format: PNG
  • Size: no larger than 25 MB.

Note that Amazon has included a tier system. This tier system is a tier program that determines the number of designs you are allowed to upload.

There are tiers of 10, 25, 100 and 500. If you are in "Tier 10", you are allowed to upload a total of 10 designs but a maximum of one design per day.

Only from a tier of 100 are merchants allowed to promote their products with ads on Amazon.

How do I create new products?

Once you are satisfied with your design, it can be uploaded.

  1. you need to decide which of the listed products you want your design to be printed on
  2. select the colors in which, for example, the t-shirt should be offered. The customer then has the choice between the predefined options during the purchase process
  3. choose a title that includes the relevant Keywords and a suitable description.
  4. set a price and upload the offer

How do I promote Amazon MBA products?

Starting from a tier of 100, you are allowed to promote products with ads on Amazon. Then you can request Amazon Advertising (opens new window).

As a merch seller you will receive an invitation with a code from Amazon. With this code you can register as a seller on the advertising platform and implement Sponsored Product Ads.

Sponsored Product Ads are a supplement to the classic Amazon SEO to increase the visibility of the merch items.

Keep a close eye on your campaigns: Due to the low unit profit per unit sold, advertising campaigns quickly become unprofitable. However, they can help to make the product known in the first place and generate initial sales.

Does Merch by Amazon already exist in Germany?

Since summer 2018, Merch by Amazon has been activated not only in the USA, but also in Germany and UK. In 2020, France, Spain, Italy and Japan followed.

Which marketplace is right for you depends on various factors. The advantages of the American marketplace are the larger selection of products and the larger number of customers. However, the competition is also much greater.

In Germany's favor is the fact that the market is still younger and therefore not as saturated as in the USA. As a native speaker, you also have the advantage of being able to address the target group more specifically and possibly in a more culturally appropriate way.

Finally, it also depends on the design. Some designs sell very well in Germany, but not at all in the USA or UK.

What do I earn as a merchant on Amazon MBA?

Since Amazon MBA is a print-on-demand service, products are not printed until they are ordered. This means that sellers do not have to pay in advance for the materials and you do not need your own warehouse. Amazon handles the printing, shipping and customer support.

As a merchant, you do not pay a fixed amount for using the platform.

The revenue you receive as a seller, also called a royalty, is a percentage of the purchase price. The deductions are calculated from the cost of materials, products, customer service, exchanges and more.

Amazon allows sellers to set their prices for their products. The royalty is based on the selling price.

If you are still in a low tier, it makes sense to offer at lower prices to get more people to buy.

The following table shows you some example of the royalty amount for selected selling prices and product groups:

T-Shirt
Purchase Price $15.99 $17.99 $19.99 $21.99 $23.99 $25.99
Royalty $2.21 $3.72 $5.23 $6.74 $8.25 $9.77
Royalty in % 14 % 21 % 26 % 31 % 34 % 38 %
Pullover Hoodie
Purchase Price $29.99 $31.99 $33.99 $35.99 $37.99 $39.99
Royalty $3.57 $5.01 $6.45 $7.90 $9.34 $10.78
Royalty in % 12 % 16 % 19 % 22 % 25 % 27 %
PopSockets Grip
Purchase Price $13.99 $14.49 $14.99 $15.49 $15.99 $16.49
Royalty $1.56 $1.90 $2.25 $2.59 $2.94 $3.28
Royalty in % 11 % 13 % 15 % 17 % 18 % 20 %

The purchase price is shown in the above example including sales tax. All license fees of the possible countries can be found listed on Amazon (opens new window).

Royalties vary according to the sales price, but not proportionally or according to a precise scheme. You earn between 3% and 32% of the gross sales price. As you can see from the tables, individual product/price combinations are more or less profitable than others.

Since MBA is a type of licensing business, it is difficult to differentiate from Amazon because you can't build a brand. Customers are interested in the print on the t-shirt, not so much the artist.

How is Merch by Amazon different from "Amazon Customs"?

Amazon Customs allows you to offer products with your text, personal images or custom configuration.

The main difference between Amazon Customs and Merch by Amazon is that with the help of Amazon Customs, customers can completely personalize their products, whereas with MBA, you can only select a predefined design and combine it with a product (e.g. T-shirt).

With Merch by Amazon, you as the seller are creative, creating a design in the hope that it will appeal to many customers and thus be purchased.

With Amazon Customs, shoppers can get creative and have individualized designs printed on a t-shirt.

To participate in Amazon Customs, you need to have a professional Amazon Seller account. Otherwise, there are no restrictions.

Another difference is that the MBA program is admission restricted. For MBA, you need to apply and can be rejected.

How is Merch by Amazon different from a traditional FBA item?

Fulfillment by Amazon means that merchants list their products on Amazon and Amazon has those products shipped directly from a warehouse via Prime.

Amazon not only handles the shipping, but also the fulfillment, packaging, shipping and returns.

The main difference is that FBA merchants have to completely finance and produce their goods themselves. In return, they are free to set their prices and influence their margins. For MBA sellers, the royalty is set by Amazon.

One advantage of FBA over MBA is less competition, especially for high-value niche products. You are free to choose the product. With MBA limited to defined product groups.

With the help of Amazon FBA, you can still build your own online store in addition to Amazon to attract your customers. This is difficult with Amazon MBA, because T-shirts are bought because of the motif and not because of a brand name.

One challenge of Amazon FBA is scalability: if you want to sell more, you need more products. That calls for more investment and therefore more risk. Meanwhile, with Amazon MBA, hardly any investment is needed.

Experience with Merch by Amazon

In the article, you were introduced to what Amazon MBA is in the first place, how it differs from other Amazon tools and what opportunities it can offer you.

In recent years, the number of Amazon MBA merchants increased tremendously. As a result, Amazon has introduced the application for the MBA program. Despite the application process, there is a lot of competition and especially new products have low visibility at the beginning.

According to testimonials, opinions about Amazon MBA vary widely. Some report that you can build a good side income with a low financial risk. Others report negative experiences.

For example, Brendan Menapace criticizes in his article (opens new window)how more and more scammers on Amazon steal MBA designs, sell them and are not held accountable for it.

In the end, it comes down to the interplay of creativity, innovation and the ability to promote one's products on social networks like Instagram and the like.

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